Open issues in consolidating the states of emergency

By Marco Bevilacqua

The Italian legal system lacks a definition of the notion of emergency, although the Constitution does recall concepts that, at a cursory glance, may be considered similar; examples are urgency, exception, necessity and extraordinariness. Amid this confusing legislative landscape, emergency powers are often entrusted to the extraordinary figure of the «commissioner», who has the task of directing and managing the many associated circumstances. Indeed, the administration of emergencies through commissioners is a special regime characterized by an impermanent and temporary nature, linked to the limited duration of the state of emergency. Therefore, the aim of this article is to examine the repercussions of the entrenchment of the commissioner model – in which derogations from ordinary law are possible – due to the continuous extensions of the state of emergency, and the consequences of the constant use of extraordinary administrative powers to deal with what is not, in strict terms, an emergency.